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Cystic Fibrosis Trust

Bacterial balancing act

Find out how Professor Daniel Peckham at the University of Leeds and a team of experts from around the world are looking for the link between the balance of bacteria in the gut of a person with cystic fibrosis and the degree of lung inflammation they experience during an infection.

Researchers from Leeds, London, Cambridge and Switzerland are joining forces for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust’s latest Strategic Research Centre (SRC), which aims to gain a better understanding of how bacteria in the gut are influenced by antibiotics, diet and substances formed by the body, and the effect this could have on inflammation in the lungs.

The importance of gut bacteria

Gut bacteria help to digest food, and the number and type of bacteria present can have an impact on the health of other parts of the human body. There are many factors that affect the balance of bacteria within each person’s gut, such as the use of antibiotics or the levels of ‘short chain fatty acids’, which are produced when dietary fibre is broken down in the stomach.

From the gut to the lungs

This research aims to investigate exactly how levels of short chain fatty acids and antibiotics affect the bacteria in the gut of people with CF, and if this has any effect on inflammation in the lungs, as well as looking at options for amending the diet of people with CF to help return the range of gut bacteria to a healthy balance.

Professor Peckham said: “There is a real clinical need to evaluate the influence of diet and antibiotics on the CF gut microbiome, and determine how these changes influence inflammation in the lung and rest of the body."

Dr Paula Sommer, Head of Research at the Trust, said: “This collaborative research is topical, highly relevant to people with CF and gives centres of excellence the opportunity to share their knowledge and expertise with each other. We’re delighted to be able to fund this research, which could give us real insights into how something as simple as changing diet could help reduce the damage caused by inflammation of the lungs in people with cystic fibrosis.”

Find out more about this research.

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